Spanking vs. Abuse

There’s a small ongoing debate in the comments of this entry over at Virusdoc about spanking. He asked for help determining the right or wrong of spanking. My take on his post is that he’s against spanking, but his little boy is pushing he and his wife to the brink (and over recently). Adding to an already difficult situation, his in-laws have been pressuring them to spank him. It seems that other methods aren’t working, but spanking does not seem to be right.
Serious abuse is obvious. Out of control parents, sometimes intoxicated, repeatedly beating kids for minor trespasses for extended lengths of time. These are obvious cases. But many against spanking would say that there is no ‘obvious case’ that is just spanking, not abuse. I think there is.
Coincidentally, I heard a segment on NPR’s Tavis Smiley show on spanking on June 16th (listen: Windows Media or Real Player). My wife also got a book from the library recently called “I refuse to raise a brat” which is profoundly against spanking, so spanking has been on my mind. In the book they cite situations of kids being slapped across the face and being hit in public as examples of why spanking is bad. To my thinking, this is at best poor practice of spanking, but really closer to abuse. So what is the difference between abuse and spanking?
The pediatrician, Dr. Den Trumbull, that was on Tavis Simley’s show I think spoke very eloquently on the distinction. He speaks of ‘proactive not reactive’ spanking. Often, when we see spanking, it is a reaction to behavior, a parent pushed over the edge. It’s the arm grab, yank and multiple swats of the disobedient child in the grocery store, often accompanied by shouting. This is not proper spanking, and it’s no wonder that people get up in arms when they see this kind of behavior.
Dr. Trumbull offers these guidelines, which pretty closely match our practice in our home:

1. Spanking should be used selectively for clear, deliberate misbehavior, particularly that which arises from a child’s persistent defiance of a parent’s instruction. It should be used only when the child receives at least as much encouragement and praise for good behavior as correction for problem behavior.
2. Milder forms of discipline, such as verbal correction, time-out, and logical consequences, should be used initially, followed by spanking when noncompliance persists. Spanking has shown to be an effective method of enforcing time-out with the child who refuses to comply.
3. Only a parent (or in exceptional situations, someone else who has an intimate relationship of authority with the child) should administer a spanking.
4. Spanking should not be administered on impulse or when a parent is out of control. A spanking should always be motivated by love for the purpose of teaching and correcting, never for revenge.
5. Spanking is inappropriate before 15 months of age and is usually not necessary until after 18 months. It should be less necessary after 6 years, and rarely, if ever, used after 10 years of age.
6. After 10 months of age, one slap to the hand of a stubborn crawler or toddler may be necessary to stop serious misbehavior when distraction and removal have failed. This is particularly the case when the forbidden object is immovable and dangerous, such as a hot oven door or an electrical outlet.
7. Spanking should always be a planned action, not a reaction, by the parent and should follow a deliberate procedure.

  • The child should be forewarned of the spanking consequence for
    designated problem behaviors.

  • Spanking should always be administered in private (bedroom or
    restroom) to avoid public humiliation or embarrassment.

  • One or two spanks should be administered to the buttocks. This
    is followed by embracing the child and calmly reviewing the
    offense and the desired behavior in an effort to reestablish a
    warm relationship.

8. Spanking should leave only transient redness of the skin and should never cause physical injury.
9. If properly administered spankings are ineffective, other appropriate disciplinary responses should be tried, or the parent should seek professional help. Parents should never increase the intensity of spankings.

This list is taken from a well documented article that analyzes the available research on spanking and the common arguments against it. (The article is part of the web page of Paul Poelstra, Ph.D. of Biola University, found by Google search. His web page has other links to spanking resources.)
In my home, our girls are warned that a spanking is to come if they persist in what they’re doing. If a spanking is necessary, we sit down and talk about it first. We make sure they understand what they’ve done and why they are getting spanked. Immediately after the spanking, we hold them and reassure them. We then ask for an apology, and follow it with an assurance of forgiveness. Then all is forgotten and it’s on with life.
I think spanking has a place in the home. I think that most kids would benefit from the proper use of spanking, similar to the guidelines outlined above. However, I would also say that no parent who’s conscience is violated by spanking their child should be pressured into doing so. The scriptures talk of the benefits of physical discipline of children (Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13) but they also say that anything that is done outside of faith is sin (Romans 14). Do your homework, and then let your conscience be your guide, whether to spank or not to spank.

06/28 – Gospels – Birth of Jesus and John the Baptist

Luke 1:5-80. Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-28
Luke 1:15 – Filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. As apposed to …? I wonder what the wisdom of the day was regarding the Holy Spirit. We now have the Bible that teaches that we recieve the Holy Spirit when we are saved, but what did they think about that then?
Luke 1:17 – Turn the fathers to their children. I never noticed that before. I would have assumed the opposite, turn the children to their fathers. Perhaps it signifies a return to proper priorities?
Luke 2:25-27 – More on the Holy Spirit. This man was filled with it and it revealed things to him. This is the same spirit we posess today. What is it trying to do through me that I’m not aware of? I need to be more in tune with it’s desires and attempts to reveal things to me. Not that I expect to have visions like this man, but I bet I’m not in touch with it like I should be.

Why Defining Fundamentals is Important to Me.

It’s been a while since I started a discussion on Christian fundamentals. It’s time I got back to it. Check out the begining post as well as this one about the real Jesus and this one about defining fundamental.
So why do I feel the need to go down this path? Well, that’s a long story (and this is a long post). Some of it I’ve aluminated here in other posts, but I’ll attempt to put it all together here.
Though I had grown up in church and had been taught the Bible throughout childhood, my Christian journey began in earnest after my sophmore year in college. It was then I met up with members of the Cincinnati Church of Christ, a part of what was later to become the International Churches of Christ (ICoC). I started to go to some Bible studies and eventually entered into a personal Bible study series. I was then confronted with the realities of discipleship and commitment. I realized that my casual, simple, vague ‘belief’ was not enough. God demanded all of me, all of my heart, mind and soul, and if I was to be sincere about this Christianity, I must change. Frankly, it was a tough decision. Life as I had been living it was pretty good, if dull. Things were relatively easy outside of the challenges of school, but I always felt as if there was something more. What I saw in front of me as a true Christian was purpose, meaning, joy, community and depth, all of which I lacked and longed for. But along with it came responsibility to God for my actions, challenges to stay on the narrow path and an obligation to care for others. Was I willing to take the challenges with the blessings? I ultimately decided that I had no choice. I loved God and could not turn away now, not knowing what I do. I could not go back to the content simple life of a man who didn’t know better. I was baptized on August 26th, 1988.
What a whirlwind followed over the following years. I found friends like I never thought possible. People that I could share my darkest secrets with (and did) and get help, compassion and understanding in return. I remember those college days with great fondness. Those were formative years and I was surrounded with great young men and women. I’m blessed to still have relationships with a couple of them here in Columbus, a few others I see from time to time in other cities. We had great passion for being our best for God and helping each other do the same. We were involved intimately with each other’s lives. When one would fall, we would rush to help him up. We were together constantly. The passing of time has probably put a certain gloss on those years, smothing over the bad times. I know that we made mistakes in our zeal, but my experience was overwhelmingly positive.
After college, I entered the singles ministry and later met my wfe to be. She enthralled me from day one. Again, I was surrounded by incredible men and great relationships. They gave me advice on how to express my growing feelings for her and still keep the relationship pure. Without these men and their advice, I know that the start of my relationship with Maria would have been much more difficult as my emotions and passion would have most certainly overcame my convictions about God’s standards.
We got married and moved to Detroit at the same time. We were blessed to be discipled by the same couple for 4 years. Their example of marraige and family had a great impact on me. I have always looked up to them and admired them. Their two incredible children are grown and gone and they stand as a testimony to their faith and perseverance. They stood by us and helped us through many an early marraige crisis. We were able to call them at any time (and did) with a problem and they were there for us. I don’t know where we’d be without them.
We left Detroit in 1996 to come to Columbus on a ‘mission team’. We were two of 25 that came from Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland to start a new church. We had great dreams of turning Columbus upside down with God’s message. We would build a church that would restore true Christianity here. Those first years were incredible. We grew from 25 to about 125 in around two years. In those first weeks we met daily, sharing about all the ways we had shared our faith with people, who we met and how they had responded. Amazing things happened. The OSU gymnastics coach (and USA Olympic assistant coach at the time) had been told of our new church by an ICoC member when he was at the Olympics in Atlanta. Later, that person left his name and contact info with our minister, who lost it. But on campus shortly before our first service, the minister’s wife met a tall white man who said he was the coach they had been trying to find and he’d love to come. He gave her his number. Later, when she called to follow up, though she had reached the gymnastic coach and yes he had met someone in Atlanta, he said had never heard of her. He came to church and turned out to be not tall and white, but short and black. Neither remembered ever meeting the other, but there he was.
Maria and I moved here without jobs and without savings. We found out the day we left that she was pregnant with baby #2, and we had no insurance. We lived in my sister’s basement for a month while we looked for jobs and a place to live. We found a man that rented us a 3 bedroom townhouse with no references becuase he just ‘knew we’d do fine.’ Maria got a job quickly with a temp agency and within 6 weeks I had a fulltime job with a fledgeling design firm. Their insurance would cover Maria’s pregnancy, a great relief. Our incomes were higher and our expeses lower. It seemed that God was with us.
I mentioned that the couple in Detroit ‘discipled us’. The ICoC had been founded on the principle of discipling relationships, amoung other things. The principal there was that a more mature Christian would mentor, or ‘disciple’ you as you grew as a Christian. As you can tell, I benefited greatly from these realtionships. If it weren’t for these men over the years, I would not be who I am today, not even close. Unfortunately, there were terrible abuses of disipling, incorporating ‘one over another’ authority into the mix. Discipling relationships as they were originaly are almost non-exsistant in out churches today.
I grew up as a Christian as the ICoC grew as a movement. We were small, in only a dozen or so cities when I became a Christian in 1987. By the year 2000, we had a church in every country that had a city of over 100,000 people in it. We had a passion. We were going to do as they did in the first century, win the world. Evangelism was our priority. We went to the malls, we knocked on doors, we talked to our neighbors, our co-workers, stopping people anywhere and inviting them to study the Bible or come to church. We were tied together through discipling. We all had disciplers that told us how to live for God. Smaller churches were Discipled by larger, older ones. We were expected to follow God’s standard in the scriptures for giving, sharing and avoiding sin. We were challenged if we didn’t. God’s standard was high and ours were expected to be as well. It was exhilarating. I felt as though I was a part of something big and meaningful. We had a God ordained job to do.
If it all sounds a bit arrogant, presumtuous and condesending, well, it was that too. I remember proclamations that we were the ‘one true church’ and that God would draw all true Christian to our movement, ‘The modern day movement of God.’ Many stupid and unloving things were said and done in the name of God, the mission, unity, obedience to leaders or other things. Many folks were hurt. My wife and I escaped much of that, thankfully, but we have known others who were not so fortunate. We were criticised for these abuses, but we brushed those people off as ungodly persecuters. About a year and a half ago, a leader named Henry Kriete wrote a 41 page paper titled “Honest to God” listing and challenging these abuses and calling us to change. It sent a shock wave through our churches. Many leaders resigned or were fired, many people left the churches as they learned of thses things. Many disciples, emboldened by the times, spoke out harshly against their leaders, inflicting the same pain on them that they were so angry over. Discipling trees and leadership structures were dismantled. All leadership above the church level is gone.
At this time, I too was pretty shaken up. I was forced to consister what I believed and why. What was truly important? Did one really have to have a discpler to be saved? Sounds silly, but at one time I might have agreed with that. How about quiet times, tithing, what church to go to? I have resolved many of these, but how to identify God’s church is one that still eludes me. During the past 17 years the idea that I belonged to something big and meaningful was a powerful one. The sense of mission and unity was amazing as well. Frankly, I miss those things. A little part of me longs for a return to the old days, when we were going to save the world. I want a bigger dream.
It seems to me that there ought to be a core that defines Christianity. Things that we can rally around. Things we can unite in. Those things must come from scripture and they must be clear cut. If we simply try to find those things that there is no argument over, we wil have a soggy, milktoast, limp, lifeless religion that does God’s power, might, love and conviction a grave diservice. Christ did not come to earth to get beaten senseless and hung on a cross so we could unite in the idea tha ‘God is love’ or some other such platitude. No, he died that we might live, truly live. I used to look around at the world of ‘Christianity’ and scoff, amazed at their stupidity. I now look with more sober judgement, for I realize that I am stupid to. But I also look and wonder, is this all there is? Arguments and debates over trivial things. Is this the best we can do for a God that loves so much?
No, I am conviced that if we are to call ourselves Christians, we must do more. We must try harder, go farther, sacrifice more and love more radically if we are to do God’s sacrifice any justice. I will not be content with mere contentment and warm, happy feelings. I refuse to believe that this is all there is. I refuse to give up the idealism and dream of a united church. The question is, what do I do with it? What can I do with it?

Music Links

It’s Salguod Update Saturday!
Music is a big part of my life. I love a whole bunch of different kinds of music. There’s not many types that I don’t like. For example, my CD collection includes both Jane’s Adiction and Amy Grant; Aerosmith and the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. I’ve added a few online links to great music for those with high speed connections.
In recent years I’ve discovered the beauty of the diverse music available on public radio. Ironically, I discovered it through a boss that would play the morning news from NPR. At 9:00 the music would come on. He didn’t like the music much, but never changed the station (unless the music got too wierd, which it would sometimes do). I grew to love the music more that the news. Here in Columbus, we’re blessed with some great local music shows as well as national ones on our local station, WCBE. You can listen to WCBE online at the link on the right.
On WCBE in the evenings they play the World Cafe from WXPN in Phillidelphia. Well, it turns out that the World Cafe is a much bigger show than the 2 hours a night on WCBE, playing from 2:00 PM until 7:00 PM Monday through Thursday, 2-5 on Friday. Additionally, there are other good music shows there as well, including one just for kids. You can listen to WXPN online at the link on the right.
I also added a link to Launch from Yahoo. It’s a subscription service, but you can listen for free if you don’t mind a lower quality stream. There a bunch of stations to choose from, but the best thing is the ability to create you own station. You go through and rate different genres, artists and individual songs. Then Launch plays music from it’s library based on your preferences. Once you get a bunch of stuff rated, it actually works pretty well. The more you rate, the better it is. The ‘Listen’ link at left is to my Launch station.
Lastly, I added a link to the Singing Buckeyes , a local barbershop chorus I sing with. I love to sing. I got my love for singing, and probably for music, from my Dad. He’s been singing barbershop with the Maumee Valley Seaway Commanders in Toledo for some 37 years. He’s been a part of probably a dozen quartets, two of them Johnny Appleseed disctrict champions, and placing as high as 13th in SPEBSQSA international contest. The Singing Buckeyes are an incredible organizaition. Each August they operate Harmony Camp where 200+ High School kids come to learn the secrets of barbershop harmony. It’s the largest camp of it’s kind in the country. They also put on the Buckeye Invitational Harmony Festival, singing valentines, spring and Christmas shows and competition in the fall.

Email Notifications / Unsubscribing

It’s been encouraging to have a few of you sign up (on the left) for email notification of new posts. As the list expanded, I realised that I hadn’t provided a way to ‘ubnsubscribe’. I’ve updated the text at the left to provide for that. Unfortunately, Movabletype doen’t provide for automatic removing from the notification list like it does for adding, so you need to do it by email.
So if you’ve gotten another one of these blasted emails from that Salguod guy and wish they would stop, email me and I’ll take you off the list.
BTW – There are some on my list that I don’t know. Why not email me and tell me a bit about yourself and how you found I’d appeciate it.

Heal Your Church Website

Another place I visit occasionally is Heal Your Church Website. HYCW is a blog that attempts to clean the net of tacky, and worse, ineffective and unuseable church websites. How does he do that? He visits the sites and then critiques them. He also writes a lot about the struggles he and others run into in maintaining church web sites. It’s full of technical stuff that is frequently over my head, but it has helped me a lot in the learning curve for creating and running my own website.
His Scripturizer plug in for Movabletype is what turns the scripture references I (and you) type in here to links to the verse at BibleGateway.
I’ve also added a link to his email obfuscator. It’s a great tool that generates a clickable email link that’s sufficiantly garbled to ward off the spambots. See it in action at the left.

Radical Congruency

Now that I’ve finished an overhaul of my side menus, I need to update my links. There are more places that I like to visit and have been doing so regularly. It’s time they made it onto the list.
The first of these is Radical Congruency. These guys come at Christianity from a similar background as I do, the Churches of Christ / Restoration Movement. It’s always nice to find folks with a similar perspective on things. But more than that, there’s some deep thought provoking articles posted there. I like to read stuff that makes me think and reveals to me new things about God. These guys do that.


Justin at Radical Congruency had a post the other day about ‘E-mail church’. He addresses the idea that church is more than a building and a schedule of meetings. Do we really need to meet to have ‘church’? Isn’t it church when we gather for dinner, meet to pray, just talk about God or even email, blog or chat? I think so. God’s church is all about the people and the relationships they develop. In the first century they didn’t have snail mail or books in the way we know them, let alone telephones, email, instant messaging, video conferencing, magazines, TV, electrinic buletin boards, blogs, etc. 30 years ago or so, Christians could not have imagined having relationships without a telephone, 60 or so years before that letters may have been indespensible, maybe 120 years earlier you had to go next door.
I know that I have come to rely on the thoughts and pespectives I get from others online to help me in my relationship with God. I can’t imagine life with out these e-relationships, this e-church.

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